Interesting stat – less people read my polemic than read my retelling of my life. That either means I’m a dreadful politician and a wonderful person, or that I write bad polemic but great autobiography. Either way, it’s revealing. I’m sure that I could twist and turn the stats even more, that I could look at different things for different days, but I’m not into analysis of numbers; I have done enough of that in past jobs, and present.
There’s a rattle on my desk as I type. I thought reorganising my desk would put paid to that. This is something that needs investigating. I just have, and my screen was standing on its cables and shaking as I write. So that’s solved, but the printer is rattling as well, so I’ll need to find something to stop that. It may sound like dreary details, but I need solid impact without reverberation so I don’t get distracted. A tiny spider just crawled out from under the printer. I’m sure it wasn’t causing the rattle, but I’ve had to evict it anyway, because something exploring my desk is just as off-putting as the rattle. HSP stuff again, I guess. I always find it odd that I’m very chaotic in most things but need great order in others.
April has bloomed with vengeful frost and hail and snow. The rhubarb looks decimated, and the daffodils are bowing their heads. The forecast is dreary and freezing. At least today looks like it might be sunny, if freezing. I thrive on light. Norway and the Antarctic, with their long summer days (Norway hot, Antarctic cold) were perfect for me, although the Antarctic summer is now much warmer than it was when I was there 14 years ago. Which is why one of the projects I need to get on with is the final part of the Antarctic trilogy that started with Dead Men, and continued with Ice Child (not yet published), because, for me, it’s important to tell the full story of how climate change is destroying the planet, as well as giving a complete narrative to the characters whose lives I started to share when I started Dead Men. Falcon’s Wings, on the other hand, the YA version of Dead Men I wrote, is a self-contained piece. I am very tempted to release that into the wild, but I need to check out the copyright position first, which seems rather less urgent than actually writing new material, to be honest.
I have to admit that having had a bad back for most of this week of holiday has probably been good for me, because I have done nothing but read and write and walk slowly. I’ve had to consciously relax, and it’s actually been really rewarding to just be a husband and father and writer rather than all those and having a “proper” day job as well. I will miss this unconscious focus, this fulfilment of my forever dream when I go back to work on Monday, and already know that there will be well over 100 urgent work emails waiting for me. That’s the reality of my existence, and I’m one of the lucky few who actually really love their day job. But I love writing more. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 49
‘I still don’t get why Valentine wouldn’t have found out that you’re here,’ Zav says.
‘Why would he?’ Katharina says. ‘He’s too focused on his own little world to think about something like that. Up until yesterday we were irrelevant to him. The mother who grew apart from her daughter when she married the wrong man. The daughter with someone else. He was just interested in commuting up and down to London, travelling abroad, doing whatever he had to do. That’s what men are like. Just like you are.’
‘What do you mean?’ Zav follows her through the room to the kitchen, to the back door.
‘You’re so obsessed with something that needs no explanation. You don’t see the wider picture unless you think it’s something that has a direct impact on what you’re trying to achieve.’ Katharina wheezes a little as she unlocks the back door. ‘You’re probably one of those people who hates the word holistic because you think…’
‘It’s New Age mumbo jumbo,’ he says.
‘Exactly. But what you’re missing is how everything interacts, how every little piece of life has an effect on the greater whole. I’ve never met a man who doesn’t.’ She stops. ‘Lock the front door, Marit, will you?’
‘Done.’ Marit appears with Anna and Aggie.
‘Am I going to fit into this car of yours?’ Aggie says, stooping through the door frame.
‘Of course,’ Katharina says. ‘I wouldn’t have suggested it otherwise. And you’re not as big as you think.’
Aggie unstoops. She’s not used to not being mocked for her size. That’s why she hates looking at her reflection in windows and mirrors, doesn’t want reminders of something she can’t control, of being something she doesn’t want to be. You’re big for a reason, the mentor said. Because I need you to be big. Because you’re my prize weapon, my warrior princess. Aggie remembers thinking your tool. You made me like this and missing the tiny child she’d been carrying, the child discarded in a heap of bones and blood on that snowy plain in whatever foreign country it might have been. Remembers having had such high hopes, such a need just for comfort and recovery, so relieved that she’d not died, thought she’d been saved for herself not to be fashioned into some blunt bulbous instrument of destruction. And in that part of her mind that she’d always kept to herself, that she’d not allowed to be invaded by whatever t was that the mentor did to her, she’d always kept alive the memory of the child, the instinct to do things her way, not to be led by the impulses the mentor had taught her. Her every instinctual reaction to conflict, to danger, is still tempered by that free part of herself. ‘Thank you,’ she says, all those thoughts through her like a flash, like she suspended time while she thought them.
Out in the garden now, Katharina fiddles with the lock on the garage.
‘Let me do it, Mormor,’ Marit says, and takes the key from her, undoes the lock easily with steady fingers. An old saloon car. Dust. Mottled light.
‘When’s the last time you drove this?’ Zav says.
‘Oh, a year or so ago,’ Katharina says. ‘But we turn over the engine every week or so.
‘God help us,’ Zav says.
‘It’ll be fine,’ Anna says.
Marit opens the front doors. ‘Get in,’ she says. ‘The three of you can sit in the back. Plenty of room.’
‘I’ll sit in the middle,’ Anna says. ‘I’m the smallest.’
‘Fine by me,’ Zav says, squeezes into the blue car after Anna, careful to keep his hands by his side, but unable to suppress a grin.
Aggie folds herself into the car through the other door, is surprised by how spacious it seems on the inside, glad to feel the warmth of Anna’s thigh on hers. She resists the temptation to reach for her hand.
Marit takes the driver’s seat. The car starts first time, and rolls out onto the drive quietly.
Katharina closes and locks the doors behind them, jumps into the seat next to Marit. ‘Just like a family outing,’ she says. ‘This will be fun.’